Autonomous systems, robotics, smart home/cities, medical devices, cleantech, energy efficiency and many more developing or emerging application areas are profoundly transformed by deep technology and deep tech companies these days. Deep Tech is often set apart by its profound enabling power, the differentiation it can create, and its potential to catalyse change. Deep Tech companies often possess fundamental and defensible engineering innovations that distinguish them from those companies that are focused on the incremental refinement or delivery of standardised technologies or only use business model innovation to create opportunities.
Successful deep tech ventures bring together multiple talents (including scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs) to solve a problem. Often they develop brand-new technologies because no existing technology fully solves the problem at hand.
Bert Labs is an AI-IoT powered solutions company, founded by Rohit Kochar in 2017. It has received an investment of US$ 1million as part of a US$3million bridge round in 2021.
Bert Labs essays the role of a new age global deep tech company, solving the world’s challenges by ensuring efficient use of available resources through its patented AI-IoT technologies. Through its proprietary, “Bert Platform Solution”, the company focuses on efficiency improvements in energy, production, supply chain planning & logistics, along with a reduction in carbon footprint. It is eyeing the expansion of its innovation, product, and platform portfolio and growing its global footprint.
Rohit Kochar, Founder CEO, and Exec Chairman, of Bert Labs, was keen to share his thoughts and insights on the solutions that a deep tech company leverages to organizations to reach its efficiency goals and the idea behind Bert Labs. Excerpts:
ELE Times: How is AI leveraging efficiency in the manufacturing sector in India?
In the manufacturing sector, controls for higher efficiency do exist in the form of the proportional–integral–derivative controller (PID Controller) for monitoring solutions, heuristic-based logic controls, and fuzzy logic-based controls. Moreover, controls existed in silos.
Neural Network-based algorithms are able to take several millions of data points and find co-relations and are able to do predictions with the highest level of accuracy. Through Reinforcement Learning (RL), maximise optimisation to bring efficiency to manufacturing process lines and utility systems.
We have built, a proactive and integrated control solution where Bert Platform Solutions with AI is a multi-input and multi-output control system.
ELE Times: What is the scope of smart manufacturing in India, according to you?
The scope of smart manufacturing is limitless and if one has to quantify it, it would be in several trillion USD market size opportunity. It is a game-changer.
Smart factories will have no-human monitored operations, where there is real-time sensing of data points, real-time transmission, real-time storage and processing of these data points, real-time learning of AI models and finally real-time actuation of control commands at several unit stations/ equipment in the manufacturing process line.
Our solution – Bert Platform Solution and AI, is built for exactly this and can do away with human intervention completely.
ELE Times: What new AI trends are currently in the market that is being incorporated into the manufacturing sector?
Here are a few new AI trends which are currently in the market that is being incorporated into the manufacturing sector,
- Real-time sensing and real-time controls
- Proactive/ predictive/preventive controls
- Integrated controls – where downstream equipment knows the requirement of upstream equipment and vice versa
- Fully automated closed-loop controls
ELE Times: The initial thought process, the idea behind Bert Labs and the journey so far.
I always wanted to build an institution in India. Over my professional journey with GE and American Express, I realised that there is a lot of entrepreneurial ability within me in terms of problem-solving, client focus, leadership, setting up a clear vision and followed by strategy in execution. Clarity of thought was very strong from the beginning, and I wanted to leverage this by starting a small company and then building it up. I wanted to pursue my entrepreneurial journey in terms of a technology-led problem-solving product platform.
My entrepreneurial idea germinated from my personal experience with my father, and later with my mother. My father went through a lot of serious ailments. Even though he recovered well, there was fear of these chronically ill diseases, affecting any lacunae in medicine, food regime, or workout regime which could culminate in a fatality. This helped me to narrow down my calling, gave me a purpose, an idea, to have sense-connect and act. Vital parameters are sensed, detected by hospitals, nurses, and doctors in real-time and analysed, processed and timely actions are taken. And that is how I started Dice Automations, a company in stealth mode, by end of 2015.
I began thinking about how I can scale this up to other industries. And, so, I have focussed on energy efficiency improvement. And then the space was evaluated, and different aspects of energy generation, energy distribution and energy consumption were mapped.
For the last five years, Bert Labs has been helping clients achieve their sustainability goals, and capital efficiency goals and bring in profitability.
ELE Times: Your thoughts on building a successful and sustainable company
I got completely inspired by the innovation-led mindset at GE capital international services. At the annual 6 Sigma innovation carnival, they used to generate hundreds of ideas across the organisation.
I believe in the conceptualization of a solution around the problem without resorting to any reference point. The solutions should be drawn by understanding issues, and by working closely with clients. And so, we built Bert Solution Platform where it is perfectly able to adapt to build something which is truly non-obvious to solve and with very high impact.
As we think about the advantages of building more companies with hardware and software capabilities, we realise, we can provide a better solution with a complete suite of products. Bert Labs’ setting up its own manufacturing hubs or research centres, will employ researchers, innovators, manufacturers, and designers and will create ancillary enterprises’ products and services, therefore generating employment and through this, a sustainable company.
Inspiration at Bert Labs is also driven by incentives, both in terms of recognition as well as the monetary rewards for any new idea which gets translated into design & architecture, and pursued at product development and through that patent which gets filed and patents which get granted.
ELE Times: How important it is to build a tech-led institution from India and what are your thoughts?
We decided to build Bert Labs, where we bring together hardware and software capabilities. As part of Bert Platform Solutions, we wanted to give our clients a seamless experience and this has become one of the biggest differentiations to bring an unprecedented impact on energy efficiency, production efficiency and quality improvement. This will go on Bert Labs to become an institution and therefore contribute to India’s economy.
We are here to build a very strong foundation with a strong value system. We live by the adage that you may not be nice to people, but you always have to be fair to them. Choosing a client who is aligned with our value system is very important. From day one, we focus on having a problem led approach rather than having a product-led approach.
At Bert Labs, we have looked at the problem the way our clients see it and experience it, and that’s what we did when we started to address energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The number one energy guzzler in commercial buildings is HVAC – heating ventilation air conditioning. So, we visited a lot of commercial buildings around airports, hotels, hospitals, and office complexes to talk to the stakeholders there who use HVAC systems and from a user standpoint, understand how HVAC systems are controlled. We identified a lot of gaps and understood the problems and then conceptualised our solution around the problem statement exactly bridging these gaps.
We always try to bring in people who have the common thread of being bound together with the value systems. The sense of ownership, the talent to back it up, deliver on innovation, solutions, or sign a sales deal or an investment closure is a way to build innovation and tech-led institutions out of India.
ELE Times: How Energy saving solutions from Bert Labs are helping its customers, please share a few examples
At Bert Labs, we have built Artificial Intelligence – Internet of Things (IoT) powered Bert Platform Solutions for Energy Efficiency Improvement which are effectively and efficiently used at Factories, Manufacturing Plants, Production Facilities, R&D Facilities, Commercial Buildings in FMCG, Pharmaceuticals, Cement, Automobile, and other heavy engineering industry verticals in Developed & Developing Markets. And for Supply Chain Planning & Logistics Efficiency Improvement.
At Unilever House Mumbai, we have installed our solution in 1 Million Sq. Ft. with 1000+ Bert IoT devices, which is integrated with 1000+ existing sensors, 450VAVs, 74 AHUs, 17 Pumps, 4 Chillers and 4 Colling Towers.
With our solutions, they are able to get 52%+ savings across all the blocks of a LEED Platinum Certified Building between Oct 2019 to Mar 2020 over the baseline defined by the latest technology of one of the leading technology conglomerates and a 20% reduction in thermal comfort complaint.
ELE Times: In its early stages, a company founder works very closely with employees, and it is more of a mentor-mentee relationship, could you throw some light on fostering & guiding a team to achieve great things
This has been one of the proud points at Bert Labs. Even though it is a challenging aspect of building Bert Labs, we take pleasure in inspiring the younger generation, to look at the big picture and help in innovation. Innovation takes time, patience, perseverance, sacrifices and postponing your gratification for a later date.
Bert Labs has been trying to inspire the younger generation through one’s own example in terms of driving the company, driving everybody in the company and as one team towards the larger goal. This will have a larger societal impact.
Problem-solving through innovation will make a difference. It becomes the fundamental theme towards inspiring and then execution, which is done daily and consistently. Achieving major milestones and then the final goal of solving complex problems through Bert Innovation. At times you know larger goals need to be broken down into very small goals which are visibly very achievable for the younger generation.
This is how we are able to bring in 52% energy efficiency in our first execution at Unilever House that becomes an inspiration for the team to work harder towards the next execution at the paint shop of a leading automobile manufacturer and utility system energy efficiency for a large pharma production facility among others.
Now with these learnings, our innovators are able to experience the success of problem-solving which becomes the impetus for them to focus on the next level of innovation and drive complex problem-solving.
Mayank Vashisht | SUb Editor | ELE Times & Times EV